Telesales has a bad reputation – it conjures up images of pushy salespeople selling low-quality products.
This negativity has permeated into the minds of many B2B sales managers who often look for sexier ways to generate sales.
However, study after study shows that in many industries outbound telemarketing still delivers exceptional results – if done well.
Telesales is often implemented poorly and there are four key reasons for this: poor recruitment, poor training, poor planning and poor data.
Most people feel uncomfortable picking up the phone to a potential customer and pitching a product or service. Subsequently, the turnover of staff in telesales is very high.
A great telemarketing team creates an environment where salespeople don’t feel uncomfortable – instead, they feel motivated, prepared and purposeful.
Let’s take a look at how you build a potent telesales team with these five tips.
Get in the Right Mindset
Any telesales campaign is a constant barrage of rejection – even the most robust telemarketers can feel down after a bad run of calls. The best telesales managers help their team think positively about sales.
1. A good sales rep will trust the process, rather than worry about one sales call, or a bad day or a week. A good rep will know that if they keep doing the right thing, results will come.
2. A good sales rep will focus on controlling the controllable; they’ll focus on what they can do to maximise results, rather than worry about the myriad factors that can negatively impact them.
3. The good sales rep is always looking for ways to improve, constantly reviewing their performance and sales skills to look for areas of potential improvement.
4. The good sales rep takes responsibility; they won’t be found blaming other members of the telesales team or circumstances for poor results – they’ll look first at themselves.
5. A good sales rep needs to have a positive attitude – as the inevitable failures and rejections accumulate, they always believe success is just over the horizon.
When you are recruiting for new telesales reps, look for these traits first. Look for methodical, positive and robust people who are willing to learn and adapt their sales methodology.
‘Growth mindset’ is a popular phrase right now; it means that believing success is possible will increase the chances of achieving it – this sums up a good mindset for a telesales agent.
To quote Blake, Alec Baldwin’s character in the film Glengarry Glen Ross:
“The leads are weak; you’re weak.”
It’s a seductive notion that the leads don’t matter and a good sales rep can close any prospect with their guile, cunning and charm – but in reality, the leads do matter!
They matter an awful lot.
Many sales teams follow this process for lead generation:
- Buy a list or scrape a load of data from the internet.
- Start cold-calling companies.
- Get poor results.
- Try a different sales list.
The key to great telesales (especially B2B) is collating the right data to allow you to sell. How do the right data analytics look?
Great sales teams will create a profile for their ideal target company (turnover, sector, performance, location, etc.) and then build a list of relevant companies that fit the profile.
Once they have a long list, they’ll dive deeper and look for specific characteristics within each business that make them an ideal prospect – let’s look at three examples:
A company leasing expensive commercial construction equipment should look for construction companies that have a certain level of revenue that indicates they work on large projects – meaning there’s more chance they’ll need expensive equipment.
As well as the revenue, they may look at sales growth over time; it’s a reasonable assumption that a business with growing revenue is going to need equipment to meet the growing scale of its projects.
If a construction business has recently acquired a smaller firm or merged, then there is likely to be the need to review equipment and this can present an opportunity.
A final approach may be to look at construction businesses with a large value of fixed assets on their balance sheet.
Leasing may be a viable way for the business to boost cash flow, achievable by selling equipment and then starting lease agreements.
An accounting firm looking to grow the restructuring arm of their practice may want to build a list of businesses in the early stages of financial distress so they can approach them about restructuring before it’s too late.
They may focus on businesses where the key financial ratios are worsening, or their sales are declining.
The accounting firm may also use detailed financial information to help in their sales process. For example, they may focus on hotels with poor liquidity.
Once they’ve developed a list of hotels with liquidity problems they can be specific in their telemarketing – focusing on how they help solve that particular problem.
A business that sells IT support services to SMEs may choose to target businesses that have just started.
Approaching new businesses may work well because they are unlikely to have a provider in place.
Also, the need may be high because they’re likely to be busy, not tech-savvy, and looking to boost productivity.
The IT company may choose to target newly incorporated companies in a couple of key sectors where IT support is particularly relevant, perhaps SaaS businesses, recruitment or professional services firms.
For each of these examples, detailed and up-to-date business information is critical and the best place in the UK to access that information is with Red Flag Alert.
Build Exceptional Sales Scripts
The most successful telemarketing teams have a clearly defined sales script for their telesales calls – the specifics vary depending on the industry, but some principles are universal:
1. Be clear in your introduction: deliberately and clearly saying your name and where you’re calling from is an important first step. The next phrase is critical as it needs to make the prospect feel comfortable, engaged and open to talking – you won’t close a sale at the start of a call, but you can certainly ruin it, something like this can work well:
“My name is Claire, and I’m calling from HRPro. Our software helps HR managers in 100+ person organisations; my customers are typically looking to develop employee engagement programmes. Does that sound like you?”
2. Once you’ve established they are the right person, the key is to get the prospect talking about their problems – only then can you go about solving them. You can start with a statement to sound authoritative:
“We offer a solution that works for over 220 businesses of a similar size to you, and we’re growing fast.”
Then qualify the prospect some more:
“Every business is different and before I take any more of your time explaining what we do, can I just ask a couple of questions to check we’re a good fit?”
3. By now the prospect knows who you are, knows you work with similar businesses and has agreed to engage with you on some questions. Next you need to get them talking, acquire information and build rapport.
There should be a checklist of exactly what you want to find out from the prospect, and this information should allow you to sell. Questions for your sales calls could be:
- What is your current solution?
- What are the issues with your current solution?
- What would you like to see in a new solution?
- What is the process for changing providers?
These questions should be integrated into a conversation – not delivered like an interrogation.
4. Once you have some good information, it’s time to switch into sales mode and take the prospect onto the next step in the process. Have a short elevator pitch explaining why you are so good – the best sales reps will tailor the pitch to information gleaned in the questions.
“You mentioned the software you use is hard to update and doesn’t automatically send offers to employees; we built our software around user experience, making it easy to engage employees. We find that engagement skyrockets pretty quickly – often over 60 or 70 per cent in a few weeks.”
5. The next step is to double-check that your solution sounds helpful to them (which, if you’ve asked good questions and pitched well, should be simple) and then close the discussion with a call to action.
“I think we have a solution that is going to solve your key pain points, so I suggest we book a call with one of our account executives to run through a demo – when is a good time for you?”
6. The final piece of the puzzle is objection management, and the next section will cover this in more detail.
Become an Expert at Objection Management
A large part of being an effective telesales agent is dealing with client objections. Before beginning a campaign, a sales manager should brainstorm the key objections and how these can be handled.
Some objections are going to disqualify prospects:
- Genuine lack of need for the product.
- Tied into a long-term contract.
- Out of budget.
It’s important that you can recognise something that genuinely disqualifies potential customers so that you don’t waste time chasing down prospects that will never close – build a list of these reasons first.
But many objections can be managed. If the business doesn’t have a concrete objection or is mistaken in their assumptions, you can start to work on convincing them. Here are a couple of examples.
Objection: Our current provider gives us everything we need
If you’ve qualified them at the start, you should already know the holes in their current solution so you can play on these.
Another option is to acknowledge their current supplier is sufficient, but focus on what they could do to make it better.
Objection: We’re not looking to change right now
You can focus on the simplicity of the changeover process and the benefits. Perhaps you could quantify the benefits of changing over now by painting a picture of how the whole process will be completed and the benefits will be felt in a few weeks.
Objection: Your solution doesn’t do X
On the surface this is a pretty terminal objection, but at least you have clarity on the perceived problem. Often the prospect hasn’t fully understood your solution so there is another way your solution can achieve what they want. If there is no way around it now, this at least can be fed back to the engineering team.
Have a Great Follow-up Plan
Even the best sales reps will be met with the dreaded ‘maybe – try me again in a month’. It’s not great, but this isn’t terminal.
First, you should try to avoid this by pushing for a result on the call. If that’s impractical, you should try to get some form of commitment for the follow-up – ideally a booked date and time.
Inevitably you’ll sometimes have leads that need following up.
Sending good quality emails after the initial call will give the prospect some valuable information and hopefully compel them to get back in touch or at least take your next call.
These telesales tips will improve your chance of getting a good outcome from follow-ups:
- Keep it short; people don’t want to read long emails, so keep it precise and get the point across in a few lines.
- Give them further links and reading about your product and make these obvious and easy to access.
- Tell them you are going to call again and offer them the chance to reach out if they have questions for you.
- Where possible refer to your previous call, i.e. ‘You mentioned that you had X problem and we are the perfect solution for xyz reasons’.
How Red Flag Alert Can Help
Red Flag Alert is the UK’s leading business intelligence database. Detailed data on every business in the UK is updated in real-time – there are over 100,000 changes every day.
Sales leaders across the UK use our data to:
- Build highly specific target lists with dozens of filters.
- Build telesales lists with 2.6m+ TPS, and CTPS-checked phone records.
- Access 20m+ key decision-makers.
- Access 50,000 new businesses every month.
- Receive data changes in their inbox.
- Integrate data into their CRM.
Data is the most potent B2B sales weapon we have available, and Red Flag Alert is the best place to get the most up-to-date and detailed information on UK businesses.
For a free consultation with one of our team that will cover:
- How to use B2B data to drive your sales team.
- Specific advice on how you can immediately implement new strategies into your team.
- Any questions you have on B2B sales.
Please contact Richard West on email@example.com or 0344 412 6699.